Sharia law 'has been here for 50 years'
By James Rush
Sharia law has been practised in Bradford for the last 50 years, according to a Muslim leader.
Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for the Bradford Council of Mosques, said sharia law has dealt with civil matters, including marriage and divorce, alongside British law for decades.
He insisted, however, that he could not see criminal matters ever being dealt with by sharia law in Britain as it was not an Islamic country.
The controversy has sparked concern among a section of the Christian community in Bradford, who believe there should be one law of the land.
Mr Ahmed said: "The Council of Mosques is very much involved with the Sharia Council, which has been around for many years.It mainly deals with matters of domestic affairs such as marriage and divorce." Mr Ahmed explained if a Muslim woman was to remarry, she would be required to seek a divorce through the Sharia Council as well as through the British court system.
The Sharia Council will look at her application and decide on whether her marriage was sustainable. He said: "The issue at the moment is mainly to do with the criminal law. In civil matters there is a lot of harmony between British and sharia law."
He claimed sharia marriages are now recognised under British law. There is an impending legal hearing on a UK sharia marriage. (See preceding story concerning the Shari'ah marriage...)
Mr Ahmed said: "Most of the criminal punishments are only dealt if you are in an Islamic state. It would never happen in Britain. For example in Islam the penalty for murder is death, but in this country the death penalty is abolished and that is why it would be silly to introduce it just for Muslims here."
The Pakistan Asian Christian Association met yesterday to discuss the effects sharia law would have on this country. Prior to this Jim Dutt, chairman of the association, said sharia law is not recognised in Britain and has no place in this country. He said: "There are thousands and thousands of Asian Christian people from Pakistan and we are not going to accept sharia law in this country. There shouldn't be any sharia law and if it is brought in only Muslim extremists will benefit.
"They will use Islam to gain power in their own communities and use it."
Canon Dr Arun John, of St Paul's, Manningham and the Bradford Churches Inner Ring Group, said Asian Christians should not worry about the atrocities seen in Asian countries following them to Britain. He said the social set up of Asian families meant problems are dealt with inside rather then the "straight-jacket of civil law."
He said: "The only thing is that sharia law has seen such horrendous things done to minorities in south-east Asia. And so these minorities over there, Christians, will react. But sharia law in civil cases is already happening in this country and I think people are taking out of context what Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is saying."
Police deny Sharia court exists
By Crime Reporter
A SHARIA law court is not up and running already in Woolwich, according to police.
National newspapers carried reports last week that the stabbing of a Somali teenager was dealt with by a Sharia trial set up by members of Woolwich's Somali community in 2006.
It was claimed a hearing was convened between elders after the victim's family told police officers the matter would be settled out of court.
Youth worker Aydarus Yusuf, 29, was quoted as saying the assailants were ordered by elders to compensate their victim.
But a Met Police spokesman said he had no record of such an event taking place.
He said: "Once a criminal inquiry has begun it will be pursued to its conclusion by the police service, with officers liasing with the Crown Prosecution Service where necessary.
"We would not defer to any other proceedings which may take place. "
1) Sharia law 'has been here for 50 years'
2) Police deny Sharia court exists